Friday, April 29, 2011

Looking for the smiles

Weather-wise, this has been one of the most bleak and grey weeks that I can remember in a long time. In addition, I'm now sick and am officially a mouth-breather. So I decided to start looking for things to make me smile today. It's surprising how many things I was able to find once I started looking.

I couldn't figure out what this was at first, but then I realized this van was filled with helium balloons. How can you not smile at a van full of balloons? Surely, it was on its way to brighten someone's day or flank a junior high graduation stage. My former boss thought balloons were the event decor death knell and current clients always go on about the environmental impact of these happy globes. But I secretly kind of love balloons at a party. They're just so easy and impactful. They instantly say party. You can't deny it. Plus helium voices are pretty funny.

This, at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, made me smile because I can think of dozens of reasons this sign is wrong. Here is a sampling of the important things that DO, in fact, require 6 foot neon letters:
- Spring - where the F are you?!?!
- My family's got my back and I'm lucky to have them.
- The world would be a little bit better if every day we each paid one compliment to someone else. Just one. Your hair looks good today, by the way.
- Finally! The royal wedding hype is over. Almost.
- Vote.
- Welcome home Sue!

As I pulled into my driveway yesterday I was pleasantly shocked to see these hyacinths (I think?) growing in my front garden. I don't remember them from last year. Is it possible I have secret, green-thumbed neighbourhood nymphs that have selected me as the lucky recipient of their midnight mulching? This would be pretty cool. Unfortunately, the more likely explanation is that my memory is waning. Either way, they're pretty.

Both this woman's oblivion and her effort made me smile. Sure, that hair ponytail holder thing is fake and only slightly better quality than Barbie hair, but at least she's trying. In Hamilton, this is a big deal. And until I looked closer I didn't really notice that she was using performance enhancing polyester elastics. I was also probably smiling because, as you may be able to tell, I was standing in line at a Winners waiting to buy a new dress.

You'll be hard pressed to find a more colourful Easter dinner plate. So pretty, so delicious. I found a new recipe to make carrots bearable. That Kinder Surprise was a bit of a letdown, however. Who is in Taiwan coming up with these 'toys'? Really. There's no rhyme or reason to them and what am I supposed to do with a teeny tiny car/plane with no passenger and half a panda figurine? I also heard that some kid had his Kinder Surprise taken away before he boarded a plane recently. Contraband. Banned. Stupid.

This was my first foray into puff pastry and I ended up baking this weird blob that turned out to look like an origami crane. I think lots of buttery good luck is coming my way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What I Need

I read this recently and since I was looking for an easy way to distract myself from my daunting to-do list today, I thought I'd give it a go.

You're supposed to type your name plus the word 'needs' into Google and then list the first 10 things that come up.

This is what I got:

- Melissa needs a new roof
Ok, that's actually pretty spooky since I posted a while ago about how the shingles from my roof are littered all over the neighbourhood.

- Melissa needs to lose it
Well, that's rude.

- Melissa needs to get on board with her new body
Before or after I lose it?

- Melissa needs help
Yeah, help to lose it, love it and roof it

- Melissa needs to cowboy up and real-life encounter with Donald Rumsfeld.

- Melissa needs to board the blob ship that is hovering overhead
Double 'ummm...'

- Melissa needs a breeder
Wow. I really hope my future dates read this.

- Melissa needs to remember how it felt when her first wife left her, told her she wasn't gay and went back to dating men
I don't want to remember that - it was too painful.

- Melissa needs to grow up and get a heart
Such an internet hate-on for the Melissas of the world.

Ok, really though, Melissa needs to get back to work.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Perfect Peel? Check.

I'm actually pretty impressed with myself.

I love when you accomplish things you didn't even know you wanted to accomplish.

I'm ready for when they remake that scene in Sleepless in Seattle.

The Spring Fridge

I've lived in my house for about a year now and this weekend I decided that I should change up my fridge gallery. These are things I look at every single day, hundreds of times, and they all make me smile or remember a wonderful time. Love to smile while I fetch the milk.

But I needed to refresh my memories. Out with the old:

I have a little obsession with a friend's baby, a Spice Girl blocking someone's face, a motto that Hamiltonians should adopt and add "and sweatpants" to, and a Santa Claus look-a-like with my Grandma.

And in with the new:

The spring revamp includes a mink shot from Oscar night, my feet on the cottage dock after I returned from living in NYC - I went to the most serene place I could think of as detox, a picture of the saddest day, several pictures of the happiest days, my friend Nathan who always makes me laugh - even just the memories of time spent with him, and my mom and I when I lived in Ottawa.

My favourite magnet is one that my friend Katy gave me (she's the one in the veil) - it says "Today I will accept change." Maybe tomorrow.

Oh, Stop Your Crying

Every time I chop onions I am plagued by tears, sniffling and it feels like razor blades on my retinas. I've tried all the so-called remedies: closing my mouth, using a wet knife, freezing the onion first, making French onion soup with celery instead - no success.

I stumbled across this tip yesterday and it totally works. 100% satisfaction guaranteed - unless you're allergic to gluten, as I was reminded tonight.

Put a piece of bread in your mouth while cutting onions. It's weird, but it completely prevented any stinging or crying. I'm not sure about the specfics of size or type, but I just used regular white bread.

Amazing. You're welcome.

Cheese and Cheesy

I think it's a good thing I'm in event planning because I love throwing a party more than almost anything. Although it's way more fun to host for my friends than for clients. Fewer budget meetings, tantrums over the ice sculpture and zero requirement to be kosher. This rainy Good Friday was party prep time:

Tonight's party is for Susan's 31st birthday - it's a formal wine and cheese with a twist. The twist is tacky, and lots of it. Susan wanted to relive the past in the most touching way - through taffeta and crush velvet. Dress code was formal with a preference for retro. If someone wore it to an 80s prom, as a bridesmaid or to any party that served pigs in a blanket, it was a go. Some of the guests were able to fit into their 8th grade dresses, others wore their mother's 60s gowns and others still draped themselves in teal ruffles. It was awesome.

Chris put together 8 hours of non-stop 80s and 90s gems including (luckily) Saturday Night by Whigfield. I didn't want to have to get out my own copy of Much Dance 1995. Whatever happened to Master T?

Chris won the prize for costume with the Most Articles of Clothing That Require Batteries. His light up shirt was activated by music or sound - it was super cool. I now have a reason to go to the Winona Peach Festival this year - gotta get one for myself.

We pretended to care about which cheese went well with which wine (wow, that's a lot of w's in a row) but ended up just going to town on both. Some people were a little creative with their cheese pairings.

Staying true to the retro theme, I made a couple recipes from this cookbook - asparagus rolled up in white bread with cream cheese and bacon - very 70s...and delicious.

Can't go wrong with a cookbook with this motto:

Detachable teal taffeta ass bow - I'm so glad fashion is cyclical. Can't wait for that to come back around.

Happy Birthday Susan!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

She's a Wannabe

"Award-winning singer/songwriter Adele has revealed her first musical love - the Spice Girls. The original girl band had quite an influence on the 22-year-old's career and she's adored them since she was 7."

Well, my obsession makes perfect sense now.

"'Even though some people think they're uncool, I'll never be ashamed to say I love the Spice Girls because they made me who I am,' Adele admits." My thoughts exactly, Adele. Zig a zig ah.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Stupid mouse + wire chewing = fried mouse.

Unseen dead mouse + vacuum = shrieking.

Tin foil + hole in wall near chewed wire = explosion, fireball and more shrieking.

I have to go lay down.

Cashew Warnings

Oh, good to know.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fashion Week - Outsider's Perspective

Another Fashion Week, perhaps my last. It's like breaking up with someone, but still going to Christmas dinner with their family. Awkward, sad and painful. Although, in this case there are lots of fashionistas and gay guys with pompadours. This season I went with Dru and Julie, who I ended up calling Drulie by the end of the night. We saw the slouchy clothes, got our free swag which included a box of Special K (?) and feasted our eyes on the best people parade in the city. Really, the runway should just be filled with all the characters that attend - fabulous people watching. Afterwards, we went for dinner and forgetting that we're no longer in Hamilton, weren't able to get a table on the chi-chi Ossington. We ended up on Harbord and as we stepped out of Dru's minivan this guy yells across the street: "Sweet ride, ladies!" Harumph. But hilarious.

No Wire Hangers!!!

Yet another of the glamourous behind-the-scenes tasks of an event planner.

And On The 6th Day, There Was Peanut Butter

I have been a part of a personal experiment for the last five days. It didn't start out that way. It started out with my resolute and determined attempt to clean up my act. Or at least my diet. See, I am what you call 'skinny fat'...well, that's what I call it anyway. I don't eat the greatest and I thought I would take a stab at heading my sure-to-fail metabolism off at the pass. This meant a 30 day intensive program that included a strict diet and exercise regime. Tracy Anderson calls it her 30 Day Method. I call it hell. I was dreading it, but convinced that I could do it. After all, what is 30 days in the grand scheme of my life full of carbs and sugar?
This is Tracy Anderson. She is a powerful pixie of death. And she has a hate-on for me. I read the book, spent several hours gathering all the foods I would need for the first week of meals and psyched myself out. I had the DVD, I had running shoes, I had kale. The shopping list was extraordinary. Never has my fridge looked so bountiful and fresh. I'm pretty sure I bought every single vegetable available. Endive? Check. Hearts of Palm? Check. Sugar snap peas? Check. How is one single gal supposed to ingest all this?

For five days I subsisted on fresh fruits and vegetables, poached fish, steamed turkey and chicken. Period. That's it. I'm not kidding. I did not slip once. There was nary a piece of bread or refined sugar anywhere. For those of you who know me even a little, this was a severe departure from my regular lifestyle. No cheese, no red meat, no pork products, no sweets, no carbs!

I had no idea how much work it is to eat this healthy. I had to think ahead and prepare meals the night before so I wasn't stuck cheating at work. Each day I spent a minimum of 90 minutes preparing food. And during a busy week such as this one, that kind of commitment had me up until 11pm steaming chicken and chopping zucchini. Only to rise at 6am for the hour long exercise routine.

Who is this girl??

Some days (i.e. Day 2) I was pumped and excited at the inevitable changes that would appear after 30 days. Other days (i.e. the rest of them) I was downright pissed off. I hated all the work, I hated not being able to eat what I wanted, I hated exercising and I hated water chestnuts.

It made me realize how happy food makes me. Everyone is an emotional eater, whoever says different is lying. Coming home after a crazy day, I kept yearning for a slice of hot pizza or the perfect sandwich. Instead, I was comforted by lettuce leaves rolled around turkey, avocado and edamame. Food became all I could think of. The fact that I couldn't have it made me want it even more. I found myself craving food I don't even really like. I'd drive by a KFC and whine.

Also, this seems to be the absolute worst week to start this craziness. I had 3 events to attend this week and this, of course, means free food. Event #1: an industry insiders' party at the Royal Elgin/Winter Garden Theatre. I attended with Katy who graciously tried all the food and described in detail each morsel for me. She really went above and beyond with the blueberry chocolate cigars. Event #2: corporate event at McMaster where the food was all themed for the guest of honour. This meant tuna melts, tomato soup, mini cheeseburgers, and candy bars. Instead of enjoying these, I sat in my car eating cold chicken protein soup. Event #3: client BBQ full of sausages, pizza and Italian veal. I had salad. And tears.

Today is the 6th day. After a night filled with blindingly painful stomach cramps, I deduced that my body was crying out for carbs and sugar. This is the only explanation. Plus, I was becoming miserable eating like this. I had some peanut butter on crackers. Now, I'm eating a pizza. Whatever.

The reason I originally decided to do this was because I felt I would respond well to the strict instructions and meal plan. It was all laid out there for me to follow and succeed. I thought the intensity and severity of this 30 day change would work for me. I might have been wrong. I know I'm talking about lasting 5 days like it was a miracle, but for me, it really was. It was one of the hardest things I've done. I'm a bit melodramatic, I guess. Turns out, I may need to approach this with a little more flexibility and realistic expectations. Changing my entire life is setting myself up to fail. Maybe I can incorporate some of the principles into my current diet but not beat myself up if I really want a Billot Log, which I'm eating right now.

Life is too short. Failure sucks, but being unhappy sucks even more. And food makes me happy. You do the math.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Google Grasps

Google seems to really be grasping at straws lately with their banner notables. The other day it was the birthday of the guy who invented the bunsen burner. Today it's the 119th anniversary of the first documented ice cream sundae. Seriously? Not even the 125th? What's next? The 3rd birthday of Rowan Wilson, who may or may not grow up to invent a remote control lawn mower? The 99th anniversary of the day 'burnt sienna' was deemed a Crayola colour? The 47th birthday of the Old Spice Guy?